Thousands sign Cornell petition demanding free tampons for women and men

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Cornell University is poised to have a student referendum on tampons, after thousands of students signed a petition calling for the university to provide free tampons for both women and men.

Cornell’s Student Assembly (SA) allows for proposals to be placed on its electoral ballot if they garner enough signatures. A petition proposing that Cornell provide free tampons and pads in all bathrooms managed to pass the required 1,500-signature threshold in a mere seven hours, according to The Cornell Daily Sun.

Currently, over 2,000 verified undergraduates have signed the petition, representing about 14 percent of Cornell’s 14,300-student undergraduate population.

The question in the proposal is straightforward: “Should pads and tampons be available free of charge to students in all bathrooms on campus?” Placing the tampons in all bathrooms is an important step, as activists say it’s important to accommodate transgender individuals who menstruate despite identifying as men.

In recent years, tampons have become a major political issue for feminist activists. Some have campaigned to abolish the sales tax on them, claiming it is a “tampon tax” that puts a special burden on women. Others, especially on campuses, have sought to make tampons free entirely, claiming they represent a major annual expense for women that men don’t have to deal with.

Tampons have become an especially notable issue within the Ivy League system this month. Brown University grabbed national headlines earlier in September when it began placing free tampons in men’s restrooms as well as women’s. Shortly after, Columbia University got in on the action when it discontinued a free tampon program due to lack of interest. After taking heat from distressed members of the student government, Columbia restarted the unpopular program.

Now, Cornell wants in on the action, with activists dubbing their movement “Free The Tampon.”

“Following the recent initiative at Brown, many people have been wondering, ‘Why doesn’t Cornell follow suit?’” SA Executive Vice President Matthew Indimine told The Cornell Daily Sun.

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